By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts Slump Buster
Fans in Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Indianapolis were treated to playoff runs in 2010.
In 2011, they were treated to Week 1 beatdowns.
Blowouts (defined as winning by 27+ points or more, why not?) are fairly rare in Week 1. From 2002, when the league expanded to eight four-team divisions, through 2010, only 13 Week 1 games were been decided by 27 or more
– 9.03 percent of all games, to be exact.
What did it mean for the teams involved?
Unless you were the 2003 Patriots, it generally meant doom. Eight of the 11 teams won five or fewer games
, and only the 2003 Patriots made the playoffs – going so far as to win the Super Bowl, a pleasant glimmer of hope for the Colts, Chiefs and Steelers.
The average record of the blowout losers was 5.3-10.7, which isn’t good.
It was also a notable indicator for the winning teams, which had an average record of 10.2-5.8 and only three losing seasons in the batch.
But don’t get too excited about your win in Kansas City, Bills fans – remember, when you dusted the Patriots in Week 1 of 2003, you finished 6-10. Goes to show you, when it comes to Bills football there’s always a cloud in their silver lining.
A look back at the 13 blowouts …
2002: Dolphins 49, Lions 21
Jay Fielder and the Fins rolled up 182 yards rushing while the Lions played two QBs (Joey Harrington and Mike McMahon), forced no turnovers and had no sacks.
End result: Dolphins 9-7, Lions 3-13
2002: Chargers 34, Bengals 6
Drew Brees only let four balls hit the turf, throwing for 160 yards and a pair of scores, while Gus Frerotte and the Bengals got outgained 401-203. (Bonus: Raise your hand if you remember that Frerotte was ever the starter in Cincy. Didn’t think so).
End result: Chargers 8-8, Bengals 2-14
2003: Bills 31, Patriots 0
This was one of the greatest outlier games in NFL history. Days after cutting fan and team favorite Lawyer Milloy, the Patriots laid a huge egg in Buffalo. Tom Brady throw four interceptions, and New England fans figured on the heels of missing the playoffs in 2002 that their 2001 title was a fluke. It wasn’t.
End result: Bills 6-10, Patriots 14-2
2003: 49ers 49, Bears 7
The first game of the short Dennis Erickson Era in San Francisco couldn’t have been better for the 49ers … and never came to close to being as good again.
End result: 49ers 7-9, Bears 7-9
2005: Steelers 34, Titans 7
Tennessee scored first, and that was it for them. They lost the turnover battle 4-0, and it set the stage for a dismal season. For Pittsburgh, it was the first win in what would be a memorable Super Bowl run.
End result: Steelers 11-5, Titans 4-12.
2006: Ravens 27, Buccaneers 0
Fitting in a game between the two best defensive teams of the decade, there were a total of 24 first downs and 413 yards in this one. But Baltimore had twice as many of each as Tampa – which was coming off of an 11-5 season and a playoff pick from most pundits. Didn’t happen.
End result: Ravens 13-3, Bucs 4-12
2006: Chargers 27, Raiders 0
San Diego had nine sacks on defense and only attempted 11 passes on offense – two numbers that almost always add up to a blowout win. Seeing how each team’s season turned out, the only surprise was that the score wasn’t higher.
End result: Chargers 14-2, Raiders 2-14
2007: Colts 41, Saints 10
This was a shocker. The Saints would come out incredibly flat the first month of 2007 after a breakthrough 2006, and never quite recovered from this Thursday night opening game massacre.
End result: Colts 13-3, Saints 7-9
2007: Steelers 34, Browns 7
Four of Ben Roethlisberger’s 12 completions went for touchdowns, and the Steelers won the battle of running games 206-46. But Cleveland, figured to be one of the league’s worst team, would show surprising spunk after this egg-laying of an opener.
End result: Steelers 10-6, Browns 10-6.
2008: Eagles 38, Rams 3
This was about as bad as a game can get. The Eagles had three 100-yard receivers, and the Rams only had 166 yards of offense total. Was it a sign of things to come? Yep.
End result: Eagles 9-6-1, Rams 2-14
2008: Broncos 41, Raiders 14
It was pretty much inconceivable that Mike Shanahan would go from this game to fired after the end of the season, but it happened (and Pat Bowlen surely regrets it). Denver’s offense played to this level for most of 2008, but the defense did. The Raiders, however, maintained their misery throughout.
End result: Broncos 8-8, Raiders 5-11
2009: Seahawks 28, Rams 0
This raised the bar of expectations in Seattle for Jim Mora’s first and only season, and the fall was pretty hard. They’d add a 42-0 win over Jacksonville in Week 5, but in that odd Seahawk fashion lost a lot of games by double digits. So did the Rams.
End result: Seahawks 5-11, Rams 1-15
2009: Eagles 38, Panthers 10
This game was notable in marking the beginning of the end for Jake Delhomme. Coming off his brutal performance in the 2008 playoffs, he threw four interceptions in this one and the Panthers were all of a sudden in the tank. They responded with four wins in Matt Moore’s five starts to end strong, but the early damage was done.
End result: Eagles 11-5, Panthers 8-8
Thanks as always to pro-football-reference.com
for their resources in compiling these numbers.